What the experts say
I feel very passionate about this subject and have spent years researching exercise during and after pregnancy, using all this knowledge to carefully put together the 3-plan. However, I understand you may be worried about yourself and precious baby so read on to hear from the experts…..
1. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG)
Who?! – The USA’s leading group of professionals providing health care for women.
You’re tired. You’re gaining weight. You may not feel your best. Although most of the time these symptoms are normal during pregnancy, exercise may help provide some relief. Becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week can benefit your health in the following ways:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
In 2002 ACOG presented the first formal recommendation to include exercise throughout pregnancy, stating, “in the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended for pregnant women”.
2. Royal College of of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)
Who?! – The main organisation in the UK representing Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, setting standards to improve women’s health.
Many women find that recreational exercise helps them to adjust to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy. It may help relieve tiredness, lower back pain and reduce varicose veins and swelling of the feet and ankles. Recreational exercise improves muscle tone, strength and endurance. It makes it easier to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy and helps prepare you for the physical challenge of labour.
Recreational exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing. Staying fit during pregnancy may help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Recreational exercise also improves sleep.
They also suggest that (2006):
- all women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy
- reasonable goals of aerobic conditioning in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness level or train for athletic competition
- women should choose activities that will minimise the risk of loss of balance and fetal trauma
- women should be advised that adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women
- initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence
- women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact on fetal growth.
3. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
Who?! – NICE is an independent UK organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.
The latest NICE guidance released in July 2010, says that moderate – high intensity physical activity will not harm an expectant mum or her unborn child. At least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity is recommended. They also say:
- recreational exercise such as swimming or brisk walking and strength conditioning exercise is safe and beneficial
- the aim of recreational exercise is to stay fit, rather than to reach peak fitness
- if women have not exercised routinely they should begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions
- if women exercised regularly before pregnancy, they should be able to continue with no adverse effects.
- if women would find this level of physical activity difficult that it is important not to be sedentary, as far as possible. Encourage them to start walking and to build physical activity into daily life, for example, by taking the stairs instead of the lift, rather than sitting for long periods.
4. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
Who?! – The body that sets exercise guidelines for fitness professionals around the world, the largest sports medicine and exercise science organisation in the world.
If you are pregnant and haven’t exercised before:
Frequency: 3-5 times a week (less after week 36)
Intensity: Moderate (50-60%)
Time: 5-45 minutes (Ideally 30 minutes+)
Type: Low impact
If you are pregnant and have exercised before:
Frequency: 3-5 times a week (less after week 36)
Intensity: Moderate to hard (60-70%)
Time: 30-60 minutes (Ideally 30 minutes+)
Type: Low impact snd any prior safe activities
For elite athletes the guidelines are different again.